March 17, 2003
Division of Labor
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Dave Ruggiero, Vice President of Marketing at Pittsburgh Simulation - “Our mission is to dramatically reduce the verification time of complex semiconductor designs and shorten time to market. Getting rid of verification engineers is not a trend we see at the major design houses. Designs that contain millions of cells require the skills of verification engineers. They are an integral part of the design process for large, complex designs. But for smaller, less complex devices, designers alone may be able to address verification.”
we find about half of our customers dedicate separate people to verification, and we've seen no evidence to support the notion that the mix is changing.”
coverage to ModelSim, help users increase verification productivity faster by leveraging their existing knowledge. Simulator companies will continue to add functionality to their tools, because their customers ask them to.”
of critical full custom elements such as memories, datapath, and IOs that are increasingly consuming today's SoC designs.”
solutions either require skills that designers are reluctant to develop or resources that are scarcely available to designers.”
fraction of the current emulation prices.”
“Empowered by such a solution, a hardware design department will mirror the development methodology of most software development centers. As each software developer completely verifies his/her piece of code, leaving to a QA team the validation task of the entire software system, so a hardware designer will thoroughly test his/her hardware module and a system verification team will then perform system integration and carry out the time-consuming regression testing.”
“At EVE, we have addressed one of the two causes of the problem by devising ZeBu, a desk-top, high-end emulator. Inserted into every designer's PC/workstation, one or more ZeBu cards can speed up the most complete test environment by several orders of magnitude. We are looking forward to a new breed of HVL solutions that will work in concert with ZeBu and together propose the final answer to the demanding task.”
Steve Wang, Vice President of Marketing at Axis Systems - “The need for verification engineers is not going away, but their place in the design methodology is expanding and moving higher in the design flow. As the industry moves towards the next level of abstraction (Electronic System Level or ESL), these engineers need tools that give them visibility into both hardware and software components of the design much earlier to verify the design is viable along each step of the process. So the tools are not replacing verification engineers, but facilitating their jobs as design and verification become parts of a single methodology.”
Charles Miller, Senior Vice President for Marketing and Business Development at Aptix Corp. - “Our recent customer survey indicates a merging of design and verification groups. (63% say that the Design Group and the Verification Group are one and the same. 31% say that the Design Group and the Verification Group work very closely with each other. 6% fall into the category we call “Other.”) We believe this is driven by increasing design complexity and the need to validate designs under real-world operating conditions. This often requires design knowledge that only resides with the developers.”
The Moderator Weighs In ...
Janick Bergeron, CTO at Qualis, Inc. - “There are many components and facets to the statement. Let me try to address them individually”
a) “Many companies cannot afford to - or choose not to - have a separate individual on the design team who handles verification.”
They choose not to, consciously or otherwise. The work that must be accomplished to design and verify a successful ASIC is constant, regardless of how you choose to distribute it between your engineers. It's a fixed pie. You can let everyone do some design and some verification, or you can let some do all of the design and some do most of the verification. Some distributions will be more efficient than others. But it is a distribution issue, not a technical or financial one.
The other obstacle is cultural. Design is still perceived as more sexy or “fun.” Verification is perceived as boring. Personally, being limited to a coding style imposed by a synthesis technology that is 15 years old is what I find boring and passé. Verification is where the action is - in new methods, tools, and standards. I've been doing verification for 12 years - and I'm always learning something new.
b) “Are the verification tools currently available easily understood and used by design engineers who are NOT verification engineers?”
in device physics, the latter in software engineering.
occur and must be embraced.
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-- Peggy Aycinena, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.
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